A packaging trade body is to open the first recycling facility for beverage cartons in the UK in September.
The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment UK (ACE UK), which represents Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG, has partnered with paperboard mills owner Sonoco Alcore to build the first UK plant specialising in the separation of beverage carton components.
It hopes the facility, located on the site of Sonoco Alcore’s paper mill in Halifax, West Yorkshire, will help create a domestic recycling market for the material.
Paper fibres recovered in the process will be used by the mill to produce tubes and cores. Feasibility studies are still underway to decide how to use the aluminium and polymers also recovered in the process, but ACE UK said they would not end up in landfill.
The recycling facility will be able to process 25,000 tonnes of carton per year, more than 40% of the beverage cartons placed on market annually by Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG.
Fay Dashper, recycling operation manager at ACE UK, told MRW the building of the facility was part of a broader project to boost the collection and recycling of beverage cartons, and to promote and create a domestic recycling market for it.
Dashper said that the collection and recycling of beverage cartons was a low priority in the UK as it contributed only marginally to the reaching of recycling targets because of its light weight.
Beverage cartons currently recovered in the UK are exported to be processed abroad because of a lack of domestic capacity and demand, she added.
Meanwhile, ACE UK has also launched a package designed to promote, support and reward local authorities to engage in beverage carton recycling.
The package includes educational material and an interactive map of recycling facilities available in local areas. The slogan of the campaign is: “I love that my beverage cartons are recycled in the UK”.
Local authorities that sign up to send their cartons to the Halifax recycling plant can also participate in a contest, “The Golden Carton Awards”, which will reward councils that increase their carton collection rates the most and that have the best educational campaigns.
The Halifax recycling facility - which was announced in June 2012 - will not impose a gate fee, but will offer a price per tonnage for high quality material sent to it, ACE UK said.